Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ahh, Youth ...

I stumbled upon Craig Ferguson's take on the whole "youth" thing -- worth a look at this entertaining sage: .

I've been working from my favourite chair in the TH quite a bit this week, feeling, if not exactly old, quite tired as I have thought about the antics of a number of people in their late teens and early twenties over the past few days. The pirouetting and posing in front of plate-glass windows. The posturing. The pseudo-intellectual conversation. The interminable texting and IM-ing, even during social events. The dismantling of the English language. The preternatural perkiness. The effort of it all.

Work at Carswell has hit some unexpected pot holes and I have been finding it hard to be shiny and on track and perky when my alignment has been so jarred. So it was with a distinct sense of relief that I was privileged to have coffee on two separate occasions this week with women whose vocabulary and voice and vision and perspective and time I value highly.

Myrna, a spiritual giant and a practical saint, is visiting from BC. Her knowledge and wisdom have sustained me through some rough times in the past and her twinkling humour and insights have caused me to laugh and to think. She has her share of heartaches and frustrations and worries; but she uses these experiences to gain a greater insight into herself, into God, into others. She has the courage of her convictions and the confidence of her history to back her up.

This is a working holiday for Myrna, full of family obligations, and yet she made time for me. I took this picture of Myrna sitting in one of the purple chairs - the light enshrining her in this image is only a fraction of the radiance that exudes from her. And she can carry off a hat like most women only long to be able to do!

The second spectacular woman is Naomi. I met her first when she was carefully, painfully, beginning her ascent of the far side of the valley of the shadow. Her striking beauty and her grace and composure drew me to her when she first walked into Nilgiris with her daughter and grandchildren. Upon getting to know her better, I realized that that quiet demeanour hides a quick wit, a ready intelligence, a sparkling sense of humour and a heart that loves passionately.

Naomi has won awards for her seamstresship (is that a word?! And I was ragging on the youngsters for corrupting the language!) and this week after coffee on her deck at twilight she showed me two quilting projects. Each is a work of art. Of the completed one, she told me how she got the intended recipient to paint the colour palette the latter would like to see in the quilt. Then Naomi went to work, hunting and selecting the exquisite fabrics, adapting the pattern and cutting and stitching and blocking and ironing and undoing and resewing until every piece was perfect and the rich garnets and mysterious jades and subtle citrines chosen with such love and crafted with such care were framed in the delicate filigree pattern of the border. The other quilt squares - shades of plum and rose and ivy and violet planted in a flaxen bed - have no two identical pieces. The uniting of the squares into the quilt will indeed prove that the whole is more than the sum of its parts; but the reality is that if it had to, each could stand on its own, strong and beautiful, a masterpiece in its own right. The thought and planning and attention to detail Naomi puts into her quilts is just a shadow of the care and time she invests in the lives of the people whom she loves.
Naomi is also a photographer, her artist's eye attuned to the extraordinary couched in the everyday. And she writes as beautifully as she sews. I treasure all the cards she has given me. Her kindness to me and her sensitivity and acceptance have taught me so much about riding out and even triumphing over the vagaries of life.

Both these women are characterized by patience, control, compassion, thoughtfulness, determination, wisdom, kindness. Both carry themselves with grace and elan. Both recognize the value of meaningful friendships, never taking them for granted but rather cultivating and nurturing them. They know who they are. They are both real.

As I was steeped in their presence this week, I realized that all that dewy youth and flittering energy cannot hope to replicate this wealth of character and depth of understanding that comes only from having lived life well.

They are two of the greatest gifts the TH has given me.


  1. Ahh, Karyn. . .

    Third spectacular woman.
    A symphony all yourself.

    One of the greatest gifts given me.
    Oh, just for once, you be the BDP!


  2. I am so honored that you chose to write about me, but feel pretty unworthy of all those beautiful tributes. I treasure your friendship, Karyn and I agree with Cathryn's comment about you!


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